We are all familiar with the story of the conversion of St. Paul. We know how, when he was on the road to Damascus, meaning to roundup and imprison the Christians there, he was struck to the ground, and he heard a voice asking, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”
We have this complete story three times in the Book of the Acts of the Apostles. The first time is in Chapter Nine where St. Luke, the author of he “Acts,” simply related what happened. In today’s account from Chapter Twenty-Two, Paul was explaining what happened to the Jewish leaders. But then in Chapter Twenty-Six we have the story a third time, when Paul was explaining what happened to King Agrippa.
The three accounts are just the same, except that in the third account, Paul added something else that Jesus said. He quoted Jesus as having said, “It is hard for you to kick against the goad.”
A goad is a pointed stick that a man, woman, or child may use for poking a donkey or a mule to get it moving. Using it as a metaphor, Jesus would have been saying that the saintly behavior of Stephen and the others Saul had captured was the goad. It should have forced Saul to see that it was wrong for him to persecute those Christians.
In some important matter you might be like Saul, stubbornly resisting God’s will, and Jesus might be goading you to do the right thing. It’s hard for you to kick against his goad. Let Jesus win.